Anchorage to pay $5.5M to settle rape lawsuits

Sep 5, 2012, 12:53 AM

Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – The Municipality of Anchorage will pay more than $5.5 million to 11 women who claimed they were sexually assaulted by a police officer now serving 87 years in prison for rape, Mayor Dan Sullivan’s office announced Tuesday.

The settlement ends the lawsuits against the city, but some of the victims plan to continue separate civil actions against former office Anthony Rollins.

The individual settlements range in size from $1.7 million for one woman down to $75,000.

“Each woman had a different encounter with Mr. Rollins. Some of them had first-degree sexual assault and some of them were something other than that,” municipal attorney Dennis Wheeler said. “So each one was evaluated based on the facts, and we negotiated a different amount based on those facts.”

Some women also chose lump sum payments, while others will receive guaranteed monthly payments spread out over 25 to 30 years.

Paul Stockler, an attorney for one of the women, said his client was raped while she was in handcuffs in 2009. The woman, who was detained in a DUI case but not cited, reached a settlement of more than $947,000, plus she will receive an annuity of $1,000 a month for life, Stockler said.

“There isn’t anyone that would go through or put their daughter through what any of these girls went through for any sums of money that any of them collected,” he said.

Stockler and another client’s attorney, Kevin Fitzgerald, praised the city for not dragging out the cases and for implementing changes, such as videotaping every encounter and making female officers more available.

Fitzgerald’s client, who reached a $100,000 settlement, is thinking of moving outside the state to leave the past behind, he said.

“She’s happy to have it in her rear view mirror,” Fitzgerald said.

Rollins was convicted last year of sexually assaulting five women. Those women, along with others who claimed they were assaulted, claimed in their lawsuits the city failed to supervise or discipline Rollins, who is now 45.

The Anchorage Police Department had for years investigated reports of on-duty sexual activity by Rollins, according to court documents filed months before the settlement.

The lawsuits claimed Rollins’ employers should have known he posed a threat to women after catching him having sex while on duty, the Anchorage Daily News reported in March. Rollins was suspended and then fired from the force after a woman reported in 2009 that he forced her to perform oral sex during a drunken driving arrest.

Police began investigating Rollins first in 2001 after they received a report that a woman performed oral sex on him in an apartment hallway. After denials from the woman and Rollins, the report was deemed unfounded.

In 2003, a prostitute reported she had been threatened with arrest unless she provided sexual favors _ although no sex occurred. The department’s Internal Affairs Unit and the FBI launched a sting operation with an undercover agent posing as a prostitute.

The agent reported two “flirtatious” encounters with Rollins, but police found while tracking Rollins that he spent “an inordinate amount of time” at the home of a woman who was a member of his church.

Rollins admitted to about 20 sexual encounters, saying he listened to the police radio at the woman’s home and responded to calls from there, according to the documents. He got a negative review and was transferred to patrol duty.

Eventually he wound up in the public affairs office, becoming a police spokesman at times. He was disciplined for having sex in that office, and the documents say a supervisor recommended sending him back to patrol duty. Chief Mark Mew said later that Rollins had been “punished severely.”

___

Associated Press writer Rachel D’Oro contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Anchorage to pay $5.5M to settle rape lawsuits